Dreams, nightmares, strange worlds created in your mind. You might have heard of Yume Nikki years ago, or like me you might have only discovered it recently as it found its way onto Steam. Maybe you’re hearing about it for the first time right now, in which case you should skip down and start reading the first entry in this week’s roundup of free games.
If you have played Yume Nikki already, don’t worry. I’ve got plenty of other free games to recommend. Some of them are about dreams! Others are slightly creepy! And for good measure, some that are just fantastically fun to play
Yume Nikki by Kikiyama
Trapped in dreams full of doors, objects, and strange creatures. Everything is like a maze, repeating over and over. The only way to escape from the small apartment you live in, the only way to interact with something other than the single game you own, is to take on these mazes.
So you wander into your dreams and are afforded the opportunity to select a door. Each one differs – representing a world behind them. Explore. See if you can find something to interact with, something that will make a difference to you in some way. Most creatures won’t notice you here or won’t talk to you anyway.
Now you have a bike? It lets you move faster through each maze. A flute? You can make music. What are these objects even for? At least you can wake up whenever you want by pinching your cheeks. It’s not like there is much to do in the ‘reality’ you wake up in – you can’t even leave your apartment. Good luck finding meaning behind your strange dreams. Yume Nikki was released back in 2004, but has just come out on Steam. Its re-release is an excellent excuse to try this cult classic.
Between Stations by Sand Gardeners
Maybe it’s time to take a break from strange dreams inside your apartment. Instead, check into the Brownie Cover Hotel and let your worries fade away. The only thing to do at this hotel is watch TV and the TV displays television shows and… static. Flipping through the noise in search for something eye-catching is strangely creepy.
Some of the shows you find are normal: selling you items, telling you about the news, and nature documentaries. You can interact with them, replying to storylines or making the show bend to your interests. Others aren’t normal. Watching the mountains makes you feel cold, and sometimes you see things in the static. Other times, the static talks to you. Each show is short, stopping abruptly and fading back to the visual noise. There is only so many to watch before the static overcomes the TV’s resistance entirely. I am drawn to see all of the shows and understand what is behind each one…
Tako Bubble by Ally_noice2d
op! Pop! Pop! That’s what you’ve got to do in Tako Bubble – pop all of the bubbles (well, as many as you can) before floating away to a more dangerous level. You are an octopus looking for beetle gems, and you need to burst the colorful bubbles in order to make your own rainbow bubble that will allow you to escape. All of the boring, non-magical, clear bubbles just lead to extra points and a greater chance of finding your bugs. Once you float off to the next area, you will find more enemies, more bubbles, and hopefully more bugs. Fish, ghosts, mushrooms, and other sea life lurk under the surface. You can squish them if you are lucky, but most of the time they will unceremoniously squish you, forcing you back to the top of the level. Despite how difficult that sounds, if you move slowly enough, the game will put a little ‘x’ where you’d die – letting you see where not to move. This heads up will help you avoid damage, but sometimes going fast feels more magnificent. Pop! Pop! Pop!
Dreams Command by Jusiv
Another dream, but this time it guides you, telling you to leave your ocean town and find your way into the depths of the forest alone. Something about the ‘island’s heart’ needing to be found. You’re not sure what that means – you’ve never explored the monster-infested island and neither have the townspeople. But how else are you going to make the dreams go away?
You won’t be able to take more than a few steps before one of these things attack you. Fighting back, healing, and even trying to flee becomes a series of mini-games. You will need to get good at timing or else perish on your quest. As you destroy enemy after enemy, you will gain XP and better moves, and soon you will be able, ready and willing to ‘Bonk’ an enemy to death. These attacks, spells, and recovery actions do get quicker and significantly more difficult to master – but you will need to be able to attack fiercely and level up to make it to the heart. Hopefully once you get there, you will be strong enough to put your dream to rest for good.
Revenge of the Kid by Danishgoel
A story of betrayal, friendship, and loss. What more could you want? You are ‘The Kid’, a western hero that has been badly wronged by a bunch of careless bandits. They now stand in your way as you need to run away from everything that you once considered yours. You are still a spiteful and strong cowboy, able to fight and stand your own ground when bandits block your path. Throwing knives, shooting shotguns, causing TNT to explode – all will need to be done skillfully if you are to make it out of here alive. Between each level, you can learn a bit about ‘The Kid’ – their likes, dislikes, what inspired them to become such a vengeful individual. When it comes to showdowns – quick trigger matches against people who once mattered to you and now need to pay – you will be able to choose how you talk to them. You can be remorseful, but ultimately they will need to be removed from the wild west. Soon you will need to face multiple bandits at once because word is getting out that you are taking everyone down. Some of these matches take a bit of planning and skill – spooking horses, freeing eagles, and lighting TNT at the correct moment will help you. I’m sure you’ll be able to make it out alive – you are ‘The Kid’ after all.
Come back for more free game recommendations next week. If you can’t wait, check out our list of the 50 best free games ever made.